Only once or twice a year, I truly get EXCITED about seeing a movie, most of my life being immersed in mediocre child-friendly flicks. The cherry on top of my Mother's Day yesterday was the long-anticipated viewing of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with my friend Marianne, who has also read the book. The movie was being shown at Orlando's one and only indie movie theater for exactly one week, and I'll be cracked if I was missing it.
Like the book, the movie is incredibly intense and very violent, but appropriately so. Softening anything here would have done a disservice to the story. My stomach was in knots for most of the film, and Marianne had her hands over her mouth and occasionally her eyes. Crime scene photos, graphic sex scenes, and scenes of rape and torture were not for the faint of heart. But if you read the book, you know this. There was a group next to us consisting of what looked like mom, dad, and two mid-teenage girls who were smoked out by the halfway mark, leaving a half-eaten meal in their wake. Lesson learned: do a little research before you bring your teens to an NR rated film.
The casting was spectacular. As many of you know, I have a bit of a crush on Lisbeth...just a peculiar fascination with such a vivid, enigmatic literary character. So it was important that this Noomi Repace chick fit the bill. The character of Mikael Blomqvist was equally as important. And they nailed it. Lisbeth was boyish and sinewy, odd-acting, distant and cold. She embodied Lisbeth. Mikael was smooth, earnest, persistent and good-looking in a non-traditional sense.
Marianne and I only took one exception with the casting. We were not thrilled with the character of Erika, Mikael's lover/work colleague. She was much less glamorous and much more weathered than we had imagined, but her part in the movie was minimal.
All of this being said, I walked out of the film feeling a little perturbed at the liberties they took with the screenplay. Listen, I know when you are attempting to convert a 600 page book to a 2 1/2 hour movie, some of the intricacies are left behind. How much longer would the movie have been if they would have portrayed Mikael as a ladies' man though? And what I would consider key plot points were completely changed. A secret from Lisbeth's past, revealed in the second book, is shown. Things were happening at the end of the movie that had Marianne and I shaking our heads in denial, whispering to each other "No! That is just wrong! That is not the way it is supposed to be!". On the way home, we tried to understand WHY these decisions were made, but we never found a satisfying answer. It may sound like we really need to get a life and focus on something more important like world hunger or the war in Iraq. But I guess I feel a little protective because Larsson is not around anymore to protect the integrity of his story.
If you were seeing this movie without the benefit of reading the book, or if you didn't remember much from the book, I think you would find the movie worth your time and money. Apparently Sony has bought the right to make a US version of the movie, with a little trash-talking about the quality of the Swedish version (maybe they didn't like the plot manipulations either?). I don't think that is warranted, but I will be very interested to see the final product and compare.
4 out of 5 stars